May your days, and nights, be merry and bright

bret curry

Bret Curry is the residential energy
manager for Arkansas Electric Cooperative

LEDs light up the holidays and more

 With the beginning of winter on Dec. 22, we’ll have but a mere nine hours and 48 minutes of daylight. It wasn’t that long ago, June 22 to be exact, that we had 14 hours and 32 minutes of daylight. Furthermore, as the winter season approaches, the need for heating, along with the increased need for lighting, will likely drive up our utility bills.

Lighting our homes (both inside and out) with incandescent bulbs for more hours of the day will cause the electric meter to chalk up additional kilowatt-hours. Also, a wider difference between the outdoor and indoor temperature results in more energy required to maintain a desired comfort level. In other words, the colder it gets outside, our heating systems require more firewood, wood pellets, natural gas, propane or electricity to heat our homes. More heating fuel equates to more dollars spent for comfort. For most Arkansans, winter can produce our highest electric bills for the year.

However, here is some encouraging news that positively impacts our pocketbooks this winter. As we keep our set-led-bulb-dec-16lights turned on for longer periods of time during the winter months, many of us may spend less money to illuminate the lights in our homes. That’s because this year, many co-op members converted existing incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs to ultra-efficient LEDs.  As forecasted by energy experts and lighting manufacturers, 2016 was a banner year for the transition to LEDs. Nationwide, abundant LED inventory was available at most building supply centers and retail box stores. Also, the laws of supply and demand helped reduce the individual price of LEDs. This economic benefit empowered many folks to take action and reduce their overall lighting wattage potential, simply by changing to LEDs. Remember, an LED uses approximately 80 percent less wattage than an incandescent bulb and approximately 25 percent less energy than a CFL.

Residential lighting was not the only area affected by the rapid conversion to LEDs. For instance, I observed LED lighting throughout Arkansas’ state fairgrounds this past October. The midway was aglow with LEDs installed throughout carnival booths and food concessionaire trailers. Even most of the rides were retrofitted with LEDs. Also, extensive use of LEDs is happening within the automotive industry, along with roadside billboards, outdoor landscaping, traffic lights, consumer appliances, residential and highway street lighting, aviation industry and many more

set-led-christmas-lights-dec-16As you decorate your home for the holidays this year, be sure to explore the holiday decoration and lighting isles at your local building supply centers and retail box stores. You may notice there are still some incandescent lighting options available. However, most of the selection will be LEDs, and the prices will be lower than last year. Even artificial Christmas trees are available with pre-strung, single-plug LEDs. Multiple section trees simply snap together, making setup and takedown a breeze. Many have integrated timers, and their LED lighting strands can change colors with the click of a remote control.

I wish you all a splendid Christmas season and bountiful New Year! Until then, may your LEDs shine brightly!

Please feel free to contact me at with any energy efficiency questions. Also, be sure to follow us on Facebook at, visit our website, as well as listen to our podcasts.

Bret Curry is the residential energy marketing manager for Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation.